ASHBURN, Va. -- Darrell Green figures cornerbacks have to be a bit weird to put themselves on the line every week.
"If I didn't enjoy that, then I'm not really who I am on the field," Green said yesterday. "I should have a hole in my head, but if I didn't look forward to that, I shouldn't be in the league. That's a weird thing. That's why I tell people cornerbacks are born."
The matchup will take on more significance because running back Emmitt Smith is expected to miss the game in a holdout. The Cowboys are going to have to rely more on Troy Aikman's arm than they usually do, and Irvin's ability to beat Green -- he's caught 19 passes in the last three games against the Redskins -- could be a key factor.
"They say offense brings tickets in, but when I go against Jerry Riceor Michael Irvin, people want to see that. There's no Michael Irvin big plays if there's no Darrell Green to try to stop him, so they ought to be paying me $3 million," Green said.
Irvin, meanwhile, is playing down the matchup. He figures the Redskins are going to give Green help and double-team him.
"Without Deuce Deuce [Smith wears No. 22], there's no way they're not going to double-team me," he said.
The Redskins, of course, aren't saying what they're going to do. They treat game plans for the Cowboys as if they were state secrets. That's why practices are closed to members of the media.
"Buy a ticket," coach Richie Petitbon says to questions about his plans for the Cowboys.
Green traditionally plays the opposing team's top receiver one-on-one, and the Redskins usually double on the other side.
Green could be given some help, but he doesn't shy away from the challenge of taking on Irvin. He notes that Irvin has only one touchdown catch in the last three games against the Redskins, despite his 19 catches.
"If you're going to accomplish certain things and you're going to win, you're going to keep them out of the end zone," Green said. "That's more important than a guy catching the ball. That's the real key, six points, not 15 catches."
Even though Irvin caught five passes for 105 yards in the Cowboys 24-21 loss to the Redskins last December, Green still wound up making a critical play that helped turn the game around.
With the Cowboys leading 21-17 in the fourth quarter, he knocked the ball out of Irvin's hands to cause a fumble. The Redskins recovered to set up the sequence of plays that resulted in Jason Buck causing the Aikman end-zone fumble that won the game for the Redskins. Green also made nine tackles and defensed three passes.
Green, though, doesn't want to take any credit for causing that fumble. He's not happy with himself when he causes a fumble because he doesn't think he should give up a catch in the first place.
"That was a big play for the team, but it would have been bigger if I'd intercepted it," Green said. "From my perspective, I don't have to bring my standards down to say I got a fumble on a guy."
Green wants to be considered the best cornerback of his time.
Remembering the games when the other teams don't even throw at him, he said, "To me that says, you're the best. Realistically, I've been the best."
Last season, he missed eight games with injuries, but he said he didn't get depressed.
"I don't deserve all the blessings I've gotten anyway," Green said. "Who could ever dream of this? In my opinion, I've missed two Pro Bowls because of injuries and I made five out of 10 so that would have been seven out of 10. I've been a starter every year and made a lot of money. You can't get mad with that kind of history behind you."
At age 33, he still has more goals.
"I'm going to try to be a Pro Bowler, try to lead the team in interceptions and try to do some real good solid things to help the team," he said.
It starts Monday night with the attempt to stop Irvin.
"The bottom line is if I shut him or anybody else down, it'll be exciting," Green said. "Considering all the publicity, that would be super excellent. Just like for him to catch the ball would be super excellent."
NOTES: In another change from the Joe Gibbs tradition, Petitbon has named permanent captains instead of rotating them every game. On offense, they're Earnest Byner and Raleigh McKenzie. On defense, they're Charles Mann and Brad Edwards and on special teams, they're Brian Mitchell and Monte Coleman. Petitbon feels there'll be more leadership with permanent captains. . . . TE Ray Rowe, who's on the team's practice squad, almost became a Dallas Cowboy this week. The Cowboys claimed TE Joey Mickey of Philadelphia with Rowe as their second choice. When they were awarded Mickey, they withdrew their claim for Rowe and he was put on the Redskins practice squad.
ALL CAUGHT UP
Since missing 14 games with a knee injury in 1989 and 1990, The Cowboys' Michael Irvin, who often is covered by Darrell Green, has played five games against the Redskins:
Date.. .. .. .. .. C.. .. .. Yds .. .. .. ..TD
Nov. 22, 1990 .. ..3 .. .. ..30 .. .. .. .. 1
Sept. 9, 1991 .. ..4 .. .. ..44 .. .. .. .. 1
Nov. 24, 1991 .. ..9 .. .. ..130 .. .. .. ..1
Sept. 7, 1992 .. . 5 .. .. .. 89 .. .. .. ..0
Dec. 13, 1992 .. ..5 .. .. ..105 .. .. .. ..0
Totals .. .. .. ..26 .. .. ..398 .. .. .. ..3